If you have been following me on social media, you might have heard that I am approaching this labor and delivery experience completely different than my first. With Mia, I didn't take any classes, read any books, or want to know anything about what the heck happens during labor and delivery. I just let my body tell me when I was ready and followed the directives of my medical team.
Note: there is nothing wrong with going with the flow of your medical team if you fully trust them and feel that they have your best interests at heart. I totally trusted my doctors and nurses, and my experience was nearly flawless for not having a birth plan.
This time around, I know so much more. I know my options, my preferences, and my vision for how I would love my labor and delivery experience to go [with a couple compromises based on my partner's preferences]. I have a birth plan checklist, have been meditating and doing breath work, and am practicing tools and positions to support a "pain-free" natural birth.
Yup, I said it, "PAIN-FREE." I am not being naive. I know there will be pain, but the idea of a pain-free experience is more about not letting the pain take over, and leaning in to what your body wants to do, instead of fighting it.
There are wayyyyyyy more than 4 ways to prepare for your pain-free labor experience, but for the sake of this blog post, we will focus on tools that will give you and your baby a sense of confidence going into labor... starting with your MIND.
Reframing // Think about the vocabulary you use to describe your pregnancy, body, and labor. Try on words like "waves" instead of "contractions" and "pressure" instead of "pain." You can choose words that make sense for you. Swapping your language prevents your mind from using prior associations of common words to react to your labor and birth. Just think, how does your body react when you think about something being "painful"? Tense? Choosing another word to describe your discomfort helps you [and your body] create a new response.
Choose a mantra // A mantra is a word or short phrase that you use to settle your mind. Pick a word that you would use to describe your ideal birth. One of the mantras I chose for my own birth is PEACE. I visualize the feeling of peace and repeat this mantra quietly [or silently] to myself when I have pregnancy discomforts [lightning crotch, anyone?] or intense Braxton Hicks contractions. The repetition distracts my mind, calms my body, and helps my nervous system relax. Take a moment to close your eyes and think about how you want your birth to feel.... now, what's your mantra?
Believe in your vision // "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve." The first step in believing in your vision is getting clear about your birth plan. Know your preferences, write them down, and go over them with your birth partner [and be flexible, or have a plan B, in case of emergency]. Spend time visualizing it- down to the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. Know it so well that it's crystal clear in your mind, and you solidly believe that it will play out accordingly when the time comes. [Note: others will try to tell you otherwise. Be so strong in your belief than their doubts and personal stories cannot sway you from your own vision.]
Have a support team // Whether your birth team is your spouse, partner, mother, sister, bestie, doula, doctor, or more than one of the above. It is important to know that you don't have to go through this journey feeling alone. Pick a team you trust, and share your birth plan in full with them. Explain their role in your labor and birth vision, and how they can best support you- physically and emotionally. The final stages of labor get really intense, and your team needs to be there to remind you about your birth plan/vision, how strong you have been and continue to be, and that you are so close to meeting your baby.
You got this mama! Start with your mind and your body will follow.
Follow along on Instagram @wellbymelissa for my journey through pain-free labor. I am NOT an expert, but I AM a life-long student in mindfulness practices and believe that we have the power to choose our own story.